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Posted on Apr 24th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (NeoMagicWarrior)
Posted under Mass Effect, Xbox, PS4, PC, Bioware


Warning: This review contains mild spoilers. I've tried to keep it as vague as possible while discussing things in game, but this article may divulge too much information depending on how much you already know. This is your only warning!

The latest release from Electronic Arts and Bioware is finally here...and they probably should have waited a few more months! Mass Effect: Andromeda had a rocky review cycle, but as we know, some reviewers wouldn't know a good game if it bit them on the face and asked them to collect three parts of an encoded message. However, in this case, the reviewers were right.



Andromeda starts out by removing itself from the rest of the Mass Effect galaxy...literally. You are part of a colonization ship for a new galaxy in which you now want to call home. Unfortunately, a lot has happened in the few hundred years you have spent in transit.  The whole sector has gone down the toilet and it is up to you to fix it.

Story-wise, ME:A takes a few too many cues from its predecessors, but with somehow even LESS input from the player. Land on a convoluted government ship filled with corruption: Check. Get a top of the line ship and round up a mixed species crew: Check. Fight off a threat that should really be way more than a one man/woman job: check. Make a difference in the general direction of the story by your choice of personality...Bueller?

ME:A removes the traditional Paragon / Renegade system that veterans of the series are accustomed to and replaces it with more "generic" choices. Even when you choose an option, sometimes the dialogue varies wildly from what your intent was. More upsetting is that none of these interactions really matter...repercussions are few and far between and the whole experience suffers for it.


WHO thought this looked ok?!

Speaking of suffering, some of the graphics look awful. Almost all of the characters look like they were designed in the dark (I'm looking at you Peebee, and your stupid eye-black). All of the female characters have oddly puffy faces that make them look like they were stung by bees. Your starting male character also looks like a young Paul Ryan, bringing his conservative agenda to the stars! None of the animation during conversations does them any help either, with mismatched lip sync and odd eye movements. The distinct lack of some of the beloved alien races also hinders the game a bunch as well. The game is plagued with graphical pop-ins and bad texture issues all over. I've even had enemies floating on nothing but their own willpower.  For reference, I played on the Xbox One, but I've seen some of these problems on other hardware as well.

Conversely, some of the graphics look amazing and in general, combat flows beautifully. Particle effects spew across the screen as hundreds of lasers, energy beams, bullets, lightning, and fire effects fire off at once. The frame rate of combat situations somehow manages to stay stable and clean, even through some hectic areas.


Combat from a gameplay perspective is exactly what one would expect from a late series Mass Effect game. Battles move fluidly and give the player a myriad of options on how to approach the cover-based shooter mechanics. All of the powers also all seem to be intact, giving the player even more ways to dispatch foes. New to the series is a jump pack system, which can be used to get some vertical height, or employed as a dodge mechanic. This makes the game feel and flow much faster than it's predecessors and really keeps things from feeling sluggish. All of the weapons and powers feel good and distinct...something more games should take a cue from.

Getting all those tasty weapons can be a huge chore, as researching and modifying your guns seems a bit overly complex for complexity's sake. You collect three different currencies for research credits, then need to collect parts and elemental resources to build the weapons. Once you finally have all of that, you can then further customize your gun with both swapable and built in modifications, creating a limitless chain of unnecessary possibilities.

The rest of the gameplay boils down into a "go here and collect 3 of X item, then speak to this person over here" style, similar to standard RPGs. This gets tiring fast, as getting from A to B isn't necessarily fun...especially in the awful car you are given. The fact that the game literally forces you to drive around doesn't help either.


So many companions. So many disappointments.

Venturing all across the galaxy collecting trinkets wouldn't be half as bad if your crew were interesting, but they are not. Your crew is comprised of a bunch of people who are uninteresting and poorly written into corners. Everyone is so generic, stiff, and bland that it makes you wonder why your protagonist is even trying to find somewhere in the universe to live with them in the first place.

ME:A is also a split decision in the sounds category. On one hand, the sounds of ships, weapons, explosions, and the general world sound fantastic. The music is also on par with the great job done in the rest of the series. However, the voice acting is where the game falls flat. Lines seem to be delivered with a sense of "eh" and a lack of real soul behind them. Choices on accents and general voice types also seem arbitrary in some cases.

Control-wise, ME:A plays like a dream...at least for me. Everything handles well, and aiming and movement are a breeze. Powers have been remapped in such a way that you get to keep three on at the same time, but only three. If you are playing a soldier class, this isn't really a problem, but for players who more heavily rely on biotics or tech powers, this could be an issue.

Overall, Mass Effect: Andromeda missed the mark by a sizeable gap. For a game that heavily relies on close up interactions with other characters, it really throws all of it's eggs into the combat basket. Interacting with NPCs in an RPS isn't fun or compelling, it feels like something fundamental has been eschewed for the worse. If you are just coming in for the combat, skip the story and go straight to multiplayer. For those looking for a deep and immersive RPG, look elsewhere.

Until Next Time,
~Neo




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Comments
 
I was really looking forward to this game. Aside from the combat so much of this game was disappointing. Even if they fixed all of the bugs the narrative isn't strong enough to carry the game. I did finish the game but it's going to take a lot for me to play another mass effect game.
 
I just finished this last night. I agree with a lot of your points, although it seems I didn't hate the Nomad as much as you did. The currencies thing really got under my skin. 3 currencies in multiplayer alone, not to mention single player. The game tossed weapons at me like crazy, which I never used because they suck compared to the crafted versions.

This feels like a bunch of different teams all built parts of the game and they just slapped them together later. The dialogue system is straight out of Dragon Age, which stinks because you can set the tone of your conversation, but it doesn't really matter. Also, who thought alien Sudoku was a good idea?

The game missed the mark. Will I play the DLC and the next game? Yeah, it wasn't that bad. Do I hope they can streamline this bloated thing?  Yup.
 
@Duke.Togo: I forgot about how much I hated alien Sudoku. Dumbest idea in the whole game.

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